Though the same can definitely be said of a few executives of major western publishers (Bobby Kotick comes to mind), the effect of that kind of disconnect has to have an impact. If this situation is one that isn't isolated to Capcom it might explain the pursuit of profit instead of creativity. Let's face it, investors are there to make money and if that means stifling creativity in pursuit of potential profits in another market, so be it. That could explain, in part, the aggressive push for dominance on their part.
In an attempt to get some sort of context I contacted analyst Michael Pachter and invited him to offer up his opinion of what exactly is going on. He confirmed my suspicions.
Patriel Manning (Cheatcc.com) – So what do you think is behind the drop in sales, specifically by Japanese developers?
Michel Pachter (Wedbush Morgan) – I think the simplest answer is the PlayStation 3 hasn't been anywhere near as successful as the PS2, the Wii has been very successful and just as Nintendo dominates success in the Western world they overly dominate in Japan, and the 360 has just made no inroads [in Japan]. So, the PS3 has had to look for any kind of hope for success and it's all kind-of been competition with Microsoft in the west and [Sony] is so fixated on not finishing behind Microsoft that they've really made an effort to encourage Western development of games so that even the Sony first-party titles have sort-of become games like Uncharted and Killzone and Little Big Planet and not Japanese RPGs[…] At the same time, because the console-makers are so western-focused, you've got a bunch of Japanese publishers, Capcom and Sega for sure, who became western-focused between the 2005-10 timeframe and recently begun to pull back on that strategy.
CCC – I've got a comment here from Keiji Inafune who just left Capcom: "After a point, the players' demands took over. Whether it was the players' demands increasing at an unprecedented rate or the creators' slope trailing off, I'm still not sure. But the way it's going, I think that expectations have risen to a point that's impossible to catch up to." Could you comment on that?
MP - I don't know. There's a lot of games that I don't play […] I'm not a game reviewer. So the stuff that game reviewers see in a game that makes them say 'this game is a 90 and this game is a 95', you know, my experience is that if the [new] game is the same as the last version, the score is 5 points lower. The only way it keeps the same score is if it's better and the only way it gets a better score is if it's a lot better. So the expectations among consumers [are] that games will get better and better.
I can tell you that I'm not a huge Call of Duty fan. I like the game, I mean I like the game, but I have to say that [Call of Duty:] Black Ops looks a lot better than the last Call of Duty. It just does. I just had dinner with a couple of game guys who were mocking Halo: Reach: (mocking) 'Oh yeah, it's just like Halo 1 and 2 and 3, they don't change', it looks a lot better than Halo 1 did and I think it looks a lot better than Halo 3 did. You can see the improvement. It's just that we're all spoiled. Expectations have increased, for sure. It's so hard to quantify or measure. Sure, the games have gotten better but just not enough to satisfy expectations.
Pachter's thoughts echo the sentiments of many industry watchers, developers, publishers, and analysts on either side of the issue. Gamers want more than developers are able to deliver. This is especially so when you consider that Japanese development teams are traditionally smaller than their western counterparts. Turn 10, the developer behind the Forza Motorsport franchise, had at one point during the development of the latest entry to the series over 300 people working on various aspects of the game. Polyphony Digital, the developer behind the famed Gran Turismo franchise, had to get by with only half that.